Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander

“When I think of words to describe Hospice – best idea, guidance,
extreme efficiency, a life line, a savior – thank God for Hospice!”

In 1977, Dr. Melvin Watkins, an orthopedic surgeon and his wife Henrietta retired in Aptos to pursue their interest in art. Melvin enjoyed sculpture while Henrietta had become an accomplished painter in the second half of life. Their daughter, Susan Alexander, shares how Hospice made a difference for her family.

Susan’s experience with Hospice began seven years ago when her father died. She recalls Hospice as a wonderful experience. “Death was a completely unfamiliar subject for my family, and especially fearful for my mother who was the primary caretaker of my father. She would have collapsed without the help and support the Hospice crew offered, unfailingly. They were very loving with my father as well as skilled at keeping him comfortable. Because of this experience, my mother knew when she was ready, she wanted Hospice.”

Susan shared that her mother knew she wanted to die at home – she hated institutions. “We wanted privacy and intimacy,” Susan recalls. “I called Hospice as soon as I knew that we were bringing her home from the rehab center, where she had gone after two operations. Even though it wasn’t clear she was dying at that point, I knew the value of setting it in place. I would urge others to arrange for Hospice as soon as you can, even if you think your family member might get better.”

For Henrietta, being at home, in her own bed, on her own terms was most important, Susan shares. “But the family had to figure out how to care for her. It was terrifying and we felt helpless, exhausted and confused. The fact that somebody at Hospice was available 24/7, and that we could call anytime and receive a response – that was the biggest thing for me. That support was so calming and reassuring.”

Susan thought it fitting to donate some of her mother’s artwork to Hospice so that the proceeds could support Hospice’s community programs. “My mother would be excited and proud to help these fabulous people.” Henrietta Watkins’ artwork will be part of the 2008 Oktoberfest art auction.